How Rich People Spend Their Time

by JS 

Let me ask you a straightforward question…would you like to be rich?

A stupid question right, of course everyone wants to be rich. Have you ever thought about what it really means to be wealthy?

This week in the Washington Post there was an article that could make the idea of being rich, much less attractive:

Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman has found, however, that being wealthy is often a powerful predictor that people spend less time doing pleasurable things, and more time doing compulsory things and feeling stressed.

People who make less than $20,000 a year, for example, told Kahneman and his colleagues that they spend more than a third of their time in passive leisure — watching television, for example. Those making more than $100,000 spent less than one-fifth of their time in this way — putting their legs up and relaxing. Rich people spent much more time commuting and engaging in activities that were required as opposed to optional.

There are a couple things that I find interesting about his findings.


1.) Is Passive Leisure Time a Result of Having Less Money, or the Cause of It?

Since I’ve heard many successful people mention that they don’t watch TV or do many other time wasting activities, my first thought when reading this article was that maybe the author had it backwards.

It was the desire to be lazy and waste time that was actually keeping many of the subjects from making more money!

Note that the article says engaged in passive leisure. I don’t know very much about being rich, but I’m thinking that being passive isn’t one of the best ways to achieve that goal.

2.) The Rich Don’t Seem any More Satisfied With Their Lives

Given the lack of relax time and the added stress levels of the people making over $100,000 a year in the article, it’s hard to decide whether it is more desirable to earn more, or stick with the lower salary.

How about you, would you take the six figure salary if you knew that it came with a whole lot less time to enjoy that added bank?

The Real Truth

I guess the real point of this story is that $100,000 a year is no longer “rich” by any means.

It seems to me that like the term “millionaire” a six figure income has succumbed to inflation and no longer comes even close to providing a lavish or carefree life.

I would probably put the price tag of financial freedom at about $10 million net worth or $300,000 net income.

Quote from The Washington Times.

–this post has been featured in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance on Greener Pastures, check it out!

Some Other Articles You May Enjoy


11 Responses to “How Rich People Spend Their Time”

  1. Moneymonk on June 27th, 2008 9:50 am

    Did u catch CNBC last night, they profile “Untold wealth” the lives of the Uber rich

    $10 million is now considered a middle class millionaire. Because the Billionaires have the penthouse apts with the nice views. Having a net worth of 10 million. This lady only could afford a small apt.

    Then again this is Mahattan we’re talking about.

  2. JS on June 27th, 2008 11:33 am

    Thanks Moneymonk, I didn’t catch it, but I’ll see if I can find it online, sounds pretty interesting.

  3. Carnival of Personal Finance, #159: The First Zero-Emissions City | Greener Pastures: Personal Finance on June 30th, 2008 12:16 am

    [...] from Smart Money Daily presents How Rich People Spend Their Time, and says, “Have you ever thought about what it really means to be [...]

  4. Brother of a Sad story on June 30th, 2008 1:14 pm

    My brother has accumulated significant wealth, makes close to $2 million per year. I wouldn’t want any of it. He’s a corporate lawyer and works 7 days a week. No joke. He’s up and out to work at 5:30 am, and is at his desk at 6:30. Works till 9 or 10 pm and is home at 11. He barely sees his kids during the week (unless they stumble in drunk or high after him) and has forgotten what it’s like to have a wife. The weekends are no different. Most Saturdays he’s in the office for 5 or 6 hours, then home for lunch with the kids and wife (if she and the kids are home), then back into the home office for another 4 hours in the evening.

    Sunday’s are spent doing work for only 3 or 4 hours. Kids are usually not home when he has an hour to catch up with them and most Sunday’s he’ll have dinner alone. Summer weekends are spent at the beach house that we (regular Joe’s, I’m an electrician by profession) all envy at but he doesn’t enjoy it. The kids are no where to be found, while he’s inside working on the laptop, talking with the office or doing conference calls with clients. Mind you now, this is the weekend!!!!

    His marriage is probably going to fail. She has no interest in him anymore and probably has some side action. He knows it too, and has commented that he doesn’t blame her. He’s just a $ sign to her now. I went to see him on Memorial Day weekend (he was alone) and I happen to be outside when these people slowly drove by. Their mouths were hanging open at the sight of my bro’s house. I wanted to run after them and tell them what that wealth really brought. Most of these “wealthy” people would trade it all in for a happy marriage, time with their kids and just peace of heart and mind.

    I occasionally ask him why he just doesn’t give it up and get his life back. His reply is that he wouldn’t know what else to do. All the “important” things (happy marriage and being a part of his kid’s lives) are too far gone to save now. At least if he brings home the bacon, they’ll stick around (for now). When the $$$ end, so will the marriage and the kids will split. Sad.

  5. Mike on June 30th, 2008 3:28 pm

    Despite what Obama and Hillary say, if you depend on wages (regardless of how high they are) for your livelihood, you aren’t rich. $300,000 per year is not rich if you have to go to work every day and pay taxes at the highest marginal rate. Those who are truly rich could hang up the daily grind without missing a beat. Having a good income is not the same as being rich.

  6. garage floor mats on July 1st, 2008 2:31 am

    There is a very simple explanation to your question, really. Ask yourself: how do the rich get to be rich? Answer: very hard work (there are exceptions of course, but most of them get to be rich through hard work). Working so hard in order to get there means less time watching tv and other relaxing activities. And once you get into the game, it is hard to get out. This is all there is to it, really.

  7. Wednesday Roundup - 2 July 2008 | Weak Wallet on July 2nd, 2008 9:47 am

    [...] Money Daily talked about how rich people spend their time.  I think this is valid; the harder I work, the more money I save – simply because I don’t [...]

  8. Weekend Link Love And Carnival Roundup | Amateur Asset Allocator on July 6th, 2008 11:33 am

    [...] How The Rich Spend Their Time by Smart Money Daily.  Surprise surprise, wealthy people spend less time being idle and more time being productive.  The poor, on the other hand… [...]

  9. Alba fan on July 13th, 2008 9:09 pm

    Those that are rich and work all the time seem to be of a certain personality. If you work all the time and are not happy, perhaps you were not meant to be rich and would be better off with a middle class lifestyle that makes you happy with free time to enjoy/relax. Is working all the time to be rich worth it? Or is working less to enjoy your time a waste of what could have been? I think about this stuff all the time.

  10. Helen Leckie on June 13th, 2010 1:23 pm

    It’s interesting that this only compares passive leisure and work. Passive leisure (in the occupational science literature) is usually things like watching TV, listening to music and playing video games. It usually includes reading for pleasure as well.

    Active leisure is things like hobbies and sport. It would be interesting to see what richer people do with their leisure time when they have it – whether it is geared more towards these activities, or whether they are in a similar proportion (but fitted into a smaller time period) as for those with less income.

  11. on June 15th, 2011 9:18 pm

    If you know some bored millionar people let us know that we know hot to involve them in the flooring business field… ;)

Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!